US 7122857 B2
A method is provided for forming a highly dense stacked gate flash memory cell with a structure having multi floating gates that can assume 4 states and, therefore, store 2 bits at the same time. This is accomplished by providing a semiconductor substrate having gate oxide formed thereon, and shallow trench isolation and a p-well formed therein. A layer of nitride is next formed over the substrate and an opening formed therein. Polysilicon floating gate spacers are formed in the opening. A dielectric layer is then formed over the floating gates followed by the forming of a control gate. The adjacent nitride layer is then removed leaving a multi-level structure comprising a control gate therebetween multi floating gates with the intervening dielectric layer.
1. A multi-level, multi-bit stacked gate flash memory cell structure comprising:
floating gate spacers having convex walls facing each other, and vertical outside walls;
a conformal dielectric layer covering said convex walls of said floating gate spacers;
a control gate therebetween said convex walls of said floating gate spacers with intervening said conformal dielectric layer, and
insulative spacers formed on said vertical outside walls of said floating gates.
2. The stacked gate flash memory cell of
3. The stacked gate flash memory cell of
4. The stacked gate flash memory cell of
5. The stacked gate flash memory cell of
6. A multi-level, multi-bit stacked gate flash memory cell structure, comprising:
two floating gates on an insulating layer on a substrate, having opposite sidewalls facing each other;
a conformal dielectric layer covering opposite sidewalls of the two floating gates;
a control gate therebetween the opposite sidewalls of the two floating gates with intervening the conformal dielectric layer,
two insulative spacers covering outside walls of the two floating gates; and
further comprising a first, second and third doped regions in the substrate as source/drain regions, wherein the first doped region is disposed between the two opposite sidewalls of the two floating gates, and the second and third doped regions are disposed outside of the outside walls of the two floating gates respectively.
7. The flash memory cell structure of
8. The flash memory cell structure of
9. The flash memory cell structure of
This is a division of patent application Ser. No. 10/295,157, filing date Nov. 15, 2002 now U.S. Pat No. 6,734,055, Novel Multi--Level (4 State/2-Bit) Stacked Gate Flash Memory Cell, assigned to the same assignee as the present invention, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
(1) Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to the manufacture of semiconductor memories, and in particular, directed to a multi-level stacked gate flash memory cell of 4 state/2-bit storage capability and to a method of forming the same.
(2) Description of the Related Art
The present state of the art for increasing memory density in semiconductors is to reduce the size of the memory cell. Another approach to improving memory density is to increase the number of possible states in a cell. The multi-level concept is applicable to both volatile and nonvolatile memories, but has been difficult to implement at a commercial level. It is disclosed later in the embodiments of this invention a method of forming a highly dense stacked gate flash memory cell with a structure having multi floating gates that can assume 4 states and, therefore, store 2 bits at the same time.
The disclosed multi-bit storage takes advantage of the analog nature of the flash storage element. The conventional 1 bit/cell approach would place the cell in one of two states, a “0” or “1”, using a program or erase operation. Erase might be denoted as the absence of charge and program as the presence of charge on the floating gate. Thus, the cell is placed in one of two discrete charge bands. If programming can be done accurately enough, the cell can be placed in one of four discrete charge bands, or, states, achieving 2 bits/cell storage. A novel state assignment for the disclosed cell will be shown later in the embodiments of this invention.
Memory devices include the earlier electrically erasable and electrically programmable read-only memories (EEPROMs), and now, the flash electrically erasable and electrically programmable read-only memories (flash EEPROMs). Generally, flash EEPROM cells having both functions of electrical programming and erasing may be classified into two categories, namely, a stacked-gate structure and a floating gate structure, which is not discussed here. A conventional stacked-gate type cell is shown in
The programming and erasing of the flash EEPROM shown in
The programming of the stacked-gate cell shown in
Thus, Liang, et al., disclose in U.S. Pat. No. 5,714,412 a multi-level flash memory cell as applied to a split-gate, but not to a stacked-gate flash memory cell. In their disclosure, a semiconductor memory device is formed on a doped semiconductor substrate, and covered with a tunnel oxide layer covered in turn with a doped first polysilicon layer. The first polysilicon layer is patterned into a pair of floating gate electrodes. An interelectrode dielectric layer covers the floating gate electrodes, the sidewalls of the floating gate electrodes and the edges of the tunnel oxide below the floating gate electrodes. A second polysilicon layer overlies the interelectrode dielectric layer and is in turn covered by a tungsten silicide layer. A second dielectric layer covers the tungsten silicide layer. A control gate electrode which spans the pair of floating gate electrodes is formed by the second polysilicon layer, the tungsten silicide and the first and second dielectric layers patterned into a gate electrode stack providing a control gate electrode spanning across the pair of floating gate electrodes. There are source/drain regions in the substrate self-aligned with the control gate electrode. U.S. Pat. No. 5,877,523 by the same inventors discloses the structure of the same multi-level, split-gate, flash memory cell.
A different PMOS flash memory cell capable of multi-level threshold voltage storage is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,666,307 by Chang. A P-channel flash EEPROM cell has P+ source and P+ drain regions, and a channel extending therebetween, formed in an N-type well. A thin layer of tunnel oxide is provided over the channel A poly-silicon floating gate and poly-silicon control gate, separated by a dielectric layer, overlie the tunnel oxide. Programming is accomplished via hot electron injection while erasing is realized by electron tunneling. The threshold voltage of the cell is controlled by the magnitude of voltage coupled to the floating gate during programming. PMOS devices conduct a gate current via hot electron injection over a narrow range of gate voltages, thereby allowing for precise control over the gate current and thus over the charging of the floating gate. This control over the gate current allows the threshold voltage of the cell to be more accurately controlled, thereby resulting in a more reliable cell capable of storing a greater number of bits of data.
Another invention by Lin, et al., in U.S. Pat. No. 5,851,881 provides a structure and a method of manufacturing split-gate MONOS multi-level logic memory device. The memory device has a poly stacked gate transistor in series with a MONOS (Metal-Oxide Nitride-Oxide Semiconductor) transistor. A tunnel oxide is first formed on the surface of a semiconductor substrate. The substrate has a stacked gate channel area and a MONOS channel area in the active regions. A poly floating gate electrode is formed over the stacked gate channel region. An ONO layer having a memory nitride layer is formed over the floating gate and the tunnel oxide layer over the MONOS channel region. A control gate electrode is formed over the ONO layer spanning across the poly floating gate electrode and the MONOS channel region. Source/drain regions are formed in the substrate. A poly flash transistor and a MONOS flash transistor combine to form the 4-level logic memory cell of the invention.
The multi-level logic memory cell disclosed in the instant invention is formed of multi-floating gates providing multi-bit storage based on twice the two-states possible on each floating gate in a stacked-gate cell.
It is therefore an object of this invention to provide a method of forming a multi-level stacked gate flash memory cell.
It is another object of this invention to provide a method of forming a highly dense stacked gate flash memory cell with a structure having multi floating gates that can assume 4 states and, therefore, store 2 bits at a time.
It is still another object of this invention to provide a stacked-gate flash memory cell structure having multi floating gates.
These objects are accomplished by providing a substrate having gate oxide formed thereon and shallow trench and P-well formed therein; forming nitride layer over said substrate; patterning a self-aligned gate to form an opening in said nitride layer; forming a first oxide layer over said substrate including said opening; forming first oxide spacers in said opening; performing floating source implant in said substrate through said opening; removing said first oxide spacers in said opening; forming a first polysilicon layer over said substrate including said opening in said nitride layer; forming first polysilicon floating-gate spacers on the vertical walls of said opening in said nitride layer; forming a conformal dielectric layer over said substrate including said first polysilicon floating-gate spacers and the bottom of said opening; forming second polysilicon layer over said substrate including said opening; removing said second polysilicon layer until said conformal dielectric layer over said opening is reached, thus leaving said second polysilicon in said opening as a control gate therebetween said floating-gate spacers with intervening said conformal dielectric layer; removing said conformal dielectric layer adjacent said opening and said nitride layer underlying said dielectric layer; performing mildly doped drain implant to form the drain of said stacked gate cell; forming a second dielectric layer over said substrate including said opening; and forming second dielectric spacers on the outside vertical walls of said floating gate spacers to complete the forming of said multi-level stacked gate flash memory cell.
These objects are further accomplished by providing a multi-level, multi-bit stacked gate flash memory cell structure comprising: floating gate spacers having convex walls facing each other, and vertical outside walls; a conformal dielectric layer covering said convex walls of said floating gate spacers; a control gate therebetween said convex walls of said floating gate spacers with intervening said conformal dielectric layer; and oxide spacers formed on said vertical outside walls of said floating gates.
Referring now to the drawings, specifically to FIGS.
Next, dielectric layer (150) is formed over the substrate, including opening (140), as shown in
As shown in
Next, first polysilicon layer (170) is formed over the substrate with silicon source SiH4 using LPCVD at a temperature between about 300 to 700° C., as shown in
Still another important aspect of the instant invention is to fill opening (140) with second polysilicon layer (190) as shown in
The stand-alone stacked gate structure (205) itself is formed by removing the upper portions of the dielectric layer (180) adjacent to opening (140)—which is now filled with second polysilicon (195)—and the underlying nitride layer (130). The removal of nitride layer can be accomplished in a high-density-plasma (HDP) etcher. The substrate is then subjected to a medium doped drain (MDD) implant to form drains (105) of cell (205). Finally, spacers (210) are formed by first depositing an oxide layer and then anisotropically etching.
The Program, Erase and Read operations of the disclosed cell are shown in the table below:
In the Program mode, it is preferred that Channel Hot-Electron Injection (CHE) mechanism is used. As is well, known, CHE is one of the four mechanisms employed in order to change the charge content of floating gate devices, the other three being Fowler-Nordheim tunneling (F-N) through thin oxides, enhanced F-N tunneling through polyoxides, and source-side injection (SSI). CHE and F-N mechanisms are based on a quantum mechanical tunneling through an oxide layer, whereas the enhanced F-N and SSI are based on injection of carriers that are heated in a large electric field in the silicon, followed by injection over the energy barrier of SiO2. The CHE mechanism is referenced with numeral (101) in
In the Erase mode shown in
It has been disclosed in the present invention a stacked-gate flash memory cell having two floating gates with capability of storing 2-bits while attaining 4-states. The novel two floating gates of this invention are shown schematically in
That is to say, while the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to the preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.